Square Dance Nebraska - Ideas
HOW TO BE A GOOD ANGEL
ON THE HEAD
OF A PIN .....
Is your halo on straight? It is important that as
many of our club members as possible come to the class as
"angels." What are angels? They are the wonderful
people who volunteer their time to ensure that a class has the
best possible learning experience.
Angles provide the new class members with their first real look
at the club. How angels behave and treat the new dancers, other
angels, and visitors will affect class members' decisions whether
or not to join our club.
Angels are also role models. No matter what the instructor and
club try to communicate to the students concerning etiquette,
attitudes, or styling, class members inevitably take their cues
from what they see the angels doing. So it is important that
angels be extra careful to provide good role models.
Smile, be enthusiastic, and enjoy the dancing. Be friendly,
courteous, and gentle. This is sometimes easier to say than to
do, especially if it has been a long day. And, let's be honest,
some of us have personal agendas, perhaps disagreements with club
policies or less-than-cordial relations with specific club
members that are out of place here and must be put aside.
Although most of us do the right things instinctively the
majority of the time it can't hurt to reiterate certain points.
The following advice for angels has been extracted from several
sources, including articles in square dance publications and
handouts prepared for other clubs.
ANGELS ARE NOT TEACHERS
This is perhaps the most common misconception that
causes problems. The primary teaching function of an angel is to
teach by example. To be in the right place at the right time. One
important thing you can do is to establish handholds after every
move. This not only helps the students maintain their orientation
in the square, it is a very good habit to develop.
It is always tempting to explain something your square is not
getting and the students will often ask you to do this -- BUT YOU MUST RESIST. It diverts
the student's attention from the teacher and one of the most
important things to learn in beginner class is to listen to the
teacher/caller. Sometimes you can clarify a simple point for
students between tips; this is fine, but not while the caller is
at the microphone.
Another difficult point is just HOW MUCH
HELP you should give in getting dancers into the
right place. Dancers, after all, must learn to do the moves on
their own. To gently guide someone through a maneuver if they
have a momentary lapse of memory might be okay and sometimes one
can help by indicating nonverbally where a person should go. But
we accomplish little by pushing or pulling a dancer through an
action when he or she doesn't know what was supposed to have been
It is better to let a square break down rather than to use too
much force getting people into the right place. Broken down
squares are an indication to the instructor that the dancers are
having problems. Do be sure the teaacher is aware of problems,
raise your hand if necessary and ask the teacher to explain
something if your square is having trouble.
Be careful, however, not to embarrass any dancer by the way you
ask for help. It is much better to say that "the square is
not getting" a certain move rather than saying "Steve
isn't getting" a certain move.
Do encourage students. Let them know that all new dancers make
mistakes and that things get better with practice. Also, angels
do make mistakes too. It is good to admit to them cheerfully as
it makes the students less tense about their own mistakes.
Club styling is always a third major source of contention. It is
important the new dancers learn the calls with standard Callerlab
styling, that is, without the flourishes we like so much. The
teacher will introduce our club styling at appropriate times
after the calls are mastered. Angels must use only the styling
which has been taught to the class.
This is not always easy. How many of us even remember how to do a
DoSaDo without a Highland Fling? But it really is very important.
Students are going to want you to teach them "how it's
done" before they have mastered the call but you should
resist the temptation.
SOME RANDOM ADDITIONAL ADVICE
Square Up With Everyone -- not just a few friends. Seek out the
weaker students and ask them to dance with you. Make sure that
students are not sitting out because angels are dancing.
End Conversations Promptly -- when the teacher begins a tip. If
you are not dancing, keep your conversations far away from the
Lend A Hand -- cheerfully if you are asked to help set up or
clean up, help with refreshments or take attendance.
Keep An Eye Out -- for security problems, accidents, and
dangerous situations like spills or debris on the floor.
Let The Instructor -- know if there are problems with the sound.
Don't Complain -- about the hall, the floor, the caller or anyone
attending the class.
Don't Criticize -- students or other angels.
Remember -- your name badge.